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New Zealand’s drug checking organisations (KnowYourStuff, NZ Needle Exchange and NZ Drug Foundation) have been seeing something called n-isopropylbenzylamine (shortened to n-iso) turning up in substances that people thought were methamphetamine.

There haven’t been many of these samples so far, but they’ve generated some interest. Here's what we know so far.

What is n-isopropylbenzylamine?

There’s not a lot known about n-isopropylbenzylamine. It’s a structural isomer of meth, meaning it has the same atoms in each molecule, but the atoms are arranged in a different way.

Some info suggests that n-iso is used in the making of other chemicals. 

What are the effects of n-isopropylbenzylamine?

We only know the effects from what people have told us they’ve experienced after taking a drug that was confirmed to be n-iso.

These include:

  • Burning sensation or soreness at injection site
  • Nausea and digestive issues
  • Headaches
  • Discomfort and body aches
  • Sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Skin issues, such as pimples

There may be other reasons for these effects, like your health not being 100%, taking drugs for a long period of time, or not sleeping enough.

Many people said that the effects they had from taking n-iso didn’t come with the same euphoria or rush that they would expect from meth.

How prevalent is n-isopropylbenzylamine? 

We’ve found 6 samples so far that have been confirmed by lab testing at ESR to have n-isopropylbenzylamine (n-iso) in them. We’ve also seen 2 samples in drug checking clinics that appear to contain only n-iso and at most a trace of methamphetamine, which were not submitted for further testing.

What are the risks of n-isopropylbenzylamine?

The obvious risks of n-iso are that you end up feeling unwell. Some people reported skin issues that could lead to infection, especially if you scratch or pick at them.

Because there’s not much info published about n-iso, it could have long-term effects on your health that we don’t yet know about.

How can you be safer with n-isopropylbenzylamine?

  • Get your drugs checked before taking them so you know what’s really in them. Drug checking is free, legal and confidential. Find a clinic near you on our calendar
  • If you usually inject meth, try smoking a small amount before deciding to inject it. People have told us that if they smoke it and feel headaches and other undesirable effects, they won’t inject it
  • Start low and go slow: Take just a small amount to start with, and wait to feel the effects before taking more
  • If you’re injecting, use new equipment each time and use a wheel filter if you can. Head to your local needle exchange for equipment and tips on how to use wheel filters
  • It’s a good idea to have someone with you during and after taking any drugs. They can get help if needed

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